Inclusive Website Design (e-Accessibility)

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), along with other groups and standards bodies like IETF and OASIS, has established technologies for creating and interpreting Web-based content. These technologies (Web Standards), are carefully designed to deliver the greatest benefits to the greatest number of Web users while ensuring the long-term viability of any document published on the Web. The appearance of the Mobile Web– with its variety of user agents– and the complexity of nowadays Web portals has awaken in the industry the awareness about the benefits of Web Standards compliance.

To support people with special needs Web Accessibility policies are in place in many EU countries, USA, Canada and Australia, with different requirements for the public and private sectors. Web Accessibility means that:

“... people with disabilities can use the Web. More specifically, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web. Web accessibility also benefits others, including older people with changing abilities due to aging.”

Although the benefits of accessible Web design go even further in terms of usability improvements for wide sectors of the population (for instance, people accessing the Internet in handicapping situations, like driving a car), not only for people with special needs, some industry members still regard e-Accessibility as a burden they must comply with or an “a posteriori” thing where external expertise and a slow manual process is required. This view exists because of the great limitations of existing accessibility evaluation tools, normally limited to test single Web resources, or portions of them, making them not acceptable for a production environment.

In the HearCom project we are creating a proof-of-concept where a leading-edge quality assurance and standards compliance tool like imergo® [Fraunhofer FIT tool] will be naturally integrated into the workflow process of an state-of-the-art Open Source Content Management System like the HearCom portal based on Apache Lenya.

Information about the design of accessible web pages